Plenty of kilometres in Bergstrom’s legs for Karkloof

2013-04-03 00:00

ON paper she may be considered “past her prime” when it comes to competing at the highest level, but for the pocket-rocket Natalie Bergstorm, age is simply a number.

The regular top performer in races both in KwaZulu-Natal and around the country is out to prove she still has what it takes to continue her winning ways when she tackles this year’s Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival from April 19-21 at Karkloof Country Club.

Having claimed the women’s category of the inaugural Quattro ROAG Series in 2012 and being a big fan of the annual three-day spectacle, Bergstrom wasted little time in getting her entry in for this year’s event and eagerly preparing for a bumper mountain biking weekend.

“I’ve been training hard, I’m ready and I’m going to win,” said a confident and excited Bergstrom.

“Well that’s the plan anyway.”

“I’ll be up there on both Saturday, for the enduro, and Sunday, for the 60 km Karkloof Classic and I’m sure it’s going to be a great weekend once again.

With plenty of experience on the Karkloof trails, a new training regime and diet and the bravery and determination of a Jack Russell, Bergstrom’s fellow top female competitors won’t be under any illusions as to what to expect from the gritty North Coast performer.

“In the 60 km race I’ll go out there and look to enjoy myself the whole way, but it should be a really good race for the women’s title, especially now that the race is part of the ROAG Series.

“I’ll probably look to try put some pressure on the others from the get go if I can, but it’s 60 km so it’s quite a way and it will probably be quite a tactical race too.

“Even though I do most of my races at Cascades in Pietermaritzburg, I enjoy the Karkloof area a lot.

“The challenge of the pretty gnarly climbs, the great single track, the technical last stretch through the endure course and the couple of super fast sections too — it’s got it all.

Despite Bergstrom’s primary focus for the weekend being on Sunday’s 60 km event, she will be a lady on a mission on Saturday afternoon as well when she looks to reclaim the women’s title in the recently introduced Karkloof Enduro race which she claimed in 2012.

“Enduro racing is still pretty new in KZN. We had the one at the All Africa Challenge and at Karkloof last year, plus we did one at the Cycle Fest at Cascades at the start of this year, but that’s it so far.

“I really enjoy it though. Not having a downhill bike, my poor mountain bike takes a bit of a pounding, but for an adrenaline junkie like me it’s such a cool opportunity to get a taste of downhill without having to sail through the air with my wheels metres off the ground.

“I’m also quite technically minded so I really do enjoy the style of racing enduro requires and I hope a couple more women will start to try it.

“I won the women’s section of last year’s Karkloof enduro and I will definitely be back again this year to try to defend my title!”

With the Joberg2C just around the corner, an event she will tackle with team-mate and popular KZN MTB personality Con Malherbe, Bergstrom has plenty of kilometres in her legs at the moment and will be hoping for another solid weekend all round at this year’s festival.

“The Masters World Championships in Pietermaritzburg in August is definitely my focus this year.

“I want that jersey so badly! But things like the ROAG Series — which the Karkloof Classic is a part of — nationals and a heap of other races are all still certainly on the calendar for me as well.”

The Karkloof Classic MTB Festival takes place from April 19 to 21 at Karkloof Country Club. Riders and spectators alike can stay up to speed with all the news and developments via the event’s Facebook page (Kar­kloof Mountain Bike Club) or on Twitter (@KarkloofMTB). More info can also be found at www.kar­

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